Regeneration project: Barkingside
Barkingside has been awarded a grant of £1.9m, complemented by £233,000 from Redbridge Council, for a major regeneration project to consolidate its position as a thriving town centre. Public spaces around the library and leisure centre are being redesigned to create a new town square that encourages a variety of uses. Shop fronts and other key sites are being smartened up to support independent traders and improve the experience of the high street. Perhaps most exciting of all, the annual Fairlop Fair (last held in 1900) has been revived as a new community event and a unique visitor attraction for Barkingside.
The revival of the annual Fairlop Fair at Fairlop Waters Country Park gives Barkingside an opportunity to celebrate its own history while creating a new visitor attraction and community event. Held in July 2013, the first new version of the fair attracted 2,500 visitors who enjoy traditional games, live music and dance, pet shows, fortune tellers and fire-eaters. A month before the fair, weekly taster events publicised the main event throughout East London. In September 2012, Light Night saw the town square decorated with colourful lighting and filled with food vendors, live music and an open-air cinema. This popular event demonstrated that this space could be a successful venue for community events, and generated ideas to inform the redesign of the town square.
The public spaces around the library and leisure centre are being redesigned by architects DK-CM to create a more accessible and usable setting for buildings at the northern end of the high street. The town square is being remodelled as an open area for markets and community events, including a raised platform which doubles as a stage. An inaccessible area beside the leisure centre is being turned into a pocket park, with a small space for commercial use. New murals and wayfinding markers made from green oak sourced from Hainault Forest, provide a characterful way to improve connections between the high street and the tube stations.
10 young designers are working to help high street businesses introduce new shop window displays and external signage in order to strengthen their presence, and improve the overall appearance of Barkingside high street. A pet shop, a barber and a shoe shop are among the businesses benefiting from these interventions. Funding is also going towards other sites in the town centre. These projects include a mural beneath the Barkingside station railway bridge and the creation of a new entrance to Fairlop Waters Country Park.
Consultant Vision On is providing advice to shopkeepers on how best to market and organise their businesses. The remodelling of the public realm around the library and leisure centre also includes the creation of several small retail spaces for use by new businesses.
Investment has enabled the appointment of a part-time Town Centre Manager (complementing the council’s existing business development work) to work with retailers and the Barkingside Traders’ Association. A space in the library has been set aside as a ‘front room’ for Barkingside to provide the Town Centre Manager with a base and to host project meetings and consultations. In addition to offering the community regular updates on progress, this ‘front room’ can be used as a showcase for businesses based in the nearby Hainault Business Park, and as a venue to promote links with local schools, designers and makers in the community.
Partners/client: LB Redbridge, Vision Redbridge Culture and Leisure Trust
Funding: Mayor of London £1.9m, LB Redbridge £233,000